Horner “would be amazed” if Verstappen receives penalty for touching Hamilton’s car

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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[raceweekendpromotion]Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is confident thatMax Verstappen is in no danger of being penalised for inspecting Lewis Hamilton’s car after qualifying in São Paulo.

The stewards announced yesterday that Verstappen is under investigation for potentially infringing parc fermé rules, after footage emerged showing him touching Hamilton’s rear wing. Verstappen met with the stewards this morning.

Horner said other drivers have done the same as Verstappen in the past without being penalised.

“I think, as we’ve seen with many, many drivers, they sometimes have a look around what’s going on with other cars. That’s all it was, a bit of inquisitiveness.”

“We’ve seen it before. We’ve had drivers pull our clutch paddles, we’ve had heads in cockpits, we’ve had front wings tested, tyres pushed, cars rolled around. So it’s not something that’s unusual. It’s never been brought up or even discussed previously.”

Horner said he would “be amazed” if the investigation led to a penalty for his driver. “There’s so many precedents, it’s almost become standard practice for drivers.

“If you were to look at every single incident, where do you draw the line? Even the driver hugging his mechanics, where do you draw the line on that?”

He said Verstappen had acted on his own initiative when examining his rival’s car. “Obviously Mercedes’ straight line speed is very impressive so I think he’s maybe just having a look at that.”

“Drivers are very inquisitive animals, sometimes, aren’t they? As I say, we’ve seen that many, many times.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes is also under investigation, after FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer advised the stewards it had failed an inspection of its Drag Reduction System. Horner believes the penalty decision will be straightforward.

“The car has been reported to the stewards because it failed the test. And the test is quite clear. I think we all saw the video footage of the car failing the test so I can’t see how it could then be deemed to comply with the regs. So it’s again fairly binary. It’s either in or out.”

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2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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65 comments on “Horner “would be amazed” if Verstappen receives penalty for touching Hamilton’s car”

  1. RandomMallard (@)
    13th November 2021, 15:33

    I would be surprised if it translates into a sporting penalty, I’ll say that much, considering the lack of penalties for every other incident or this type I can remember. I could see a fine or a reprimand, but no further to be honest.

    1. Other drivers have done similar things in the past (Vettel had been mentioned manner already on this site on the subject), but I do not know if there are other cases where the parts that had been touched were later found to be operating outside their allowed limits.

      If Verstappen touches the left mirror and the issue with the pressure on a right tyre, then there is no case. But Verstappen did touch the part of the wing that was later found to be opening too much. That sounds like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and could have a motive. I am sure he did nothing untoward but he did breech the parc fermé elles in a way that *can* be linked to his only opponent disqualification.

      That is tricky for the stewards. They cannot really penalise Hamilton because Mercedes can claim there is a reasonable doubt about the soa source of the issue. They cannot really let Verstappen go without consequences because he did break the rules. That could be the crazy outcome of this while story.

      1. if it would be claimed Max “touching it” is somehow involved, it would raise the interesting question how easy a Mercedes wing can be changed between legal and not legal. Don’t think Mercedes wants to go that route…

      2. Sky said Mercedes were not allowed to check the rear wing, which has been sealed off somewhere with FIA. They cannot assess the wing and figure why it failed the test. The only thing they can argue is that it was Verstappen that deformed it or damaged it.

        IF Verstappen touched that part, Mercedes could argue that FIA test procedures were not adhered (due to Verstappen/RB). But there is no precedence how to deal with such situations.

        1. Really grasping at straws I see.
          Accept it was an illegal wing and verstappen, has noting to do with it.
          BTW, the test was as shown, with merc engineers in the merc garage.

          1. Where’s the grasping????!?

            Don’t worry, your dear Max and RB will be just fine.


    2. My view is:
      At the time that Lewis hopped out of his car, the car was not known to be illegal.
      Max touched the rear wing in question whilst it was still not deemed illegal.
      The wing was then tested and deemed illegal
      Before Max touched it it was 100% Mercedes fault
      After Max touched it, it’s 50+x% chance that it was Mercedes fault.
      It’s highly unlikely Max did anything to affect the result but he has breached a regulation to avoid the exact situation he now finds himself in, therefore you cannot just ignore said regulation.

      What would be the penalty for incorrect operation of the wing? DQ from quali
      What would be the penalty if Max hadv damaged the wing? Likely, DQ from the event. Why? Sporting code, it’s like sabotaging a competitor at a 100m race. Instant DQ (and possibly more).

      Will that happen? Probably not. But it’s going to be hard to get right.

      If you penalise Ham you have to penalise Ver. If you penalise Ver, if it’s just a slap on the wrist, you legitimise touching of cars in parc ferme, leading at suke point someone doing something deliberately.
      If you don’t punish either you are admitting defeat and addressing neither issue.

      If you send both to the back of the grid, what if Mercedes were actually innocent? You are now punishing them for nothing… The only one you can PROVE isn’t innocent, rather ironically is Max who probably actually only slightly stepped over the line.

      What I’m saying is, everyone has an opinion and posts like it’s black and white but this is probably one of the most difficult and complex decisions the stewards could face and they are all but guaranteed to be wrong. They have to select a ‘best of a bad bunch’ of decisions.

  2. I’m not Max’s fan but if he will be penalized for THAT I’ll quit watching this hogwash.

    1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
      13th November 2021, 16:05

      I’m sure F1 community will miss you a lot

      1. He won’t be the only one.

  3. Seen Vettel do the same if not worse, multiple times, with no penalty so it’d be an interesting precedent to set if they did.

  4. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    13th November 2021, 15:50

    I’ll be gobsmacked if Max gets even a reprimand, never mind a penalty. I think more the issue is will his touching get Lewis off the hook?

    I can’t think of an example in recent times of a driver touching a part on a rivals car which then failed a test.

  5. Interesting to see how the ham fans jump on the occasion to suggest the illegal Mercedes Wing was max fault.
    Verstappen no penalty but a warning.
    Lewis DSQ for sprintrace.
    He is currently driving with another wing so a breach of Parc ferme.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      13th November 2021, 15:56

      I believe he is not in breach of Parc Ferme as permission has been given by the FIA for Merc to change the rear wing to one of the same specification under Article 34.2 (at least that’s what Mercedes are claiming), the relevant part of which states:

      Any work not listed above may only be undertaken with the approval of the Technical Delegate
      following a written request from the Competitor concerned

      The regs are slightly confusing but I think he will not have to start from the pits for this change.

      1. So if Mercedes change to another wing of the same spec does that mean it has to fail inspection?

    2. Why do you have to be so decisive? It’s clearly not that “simple” and needs the stewards to view information that you and I do not know about. Every comment of yours is pro Verstappen, it’s so boring.

    3. erikje, I think you are labouring under an incorrect understanding of how the parc ferme rules work and what does happen in a situation like this. There are mechanisms under which the Technical Director can approve, or even instruct, a team to change a component under parc ferme regulations that does not automatically result in a breach of the parc ferme rules.

      For example, Giovinazzi is participating in this race even though his car has been substantially rebuilt in parc ferme – the team have changed the entire front wing assembly and nosecone, the entire floor, the left rear hand side of the engine cover and two deflectors on the left hand sidepod. None of those components are on the list of components that a team is normally allowed to change, but Giovinazzi was allowed to have those components changed without consequence in parc ferme – the use of an alternative rear wing, therefore, does not necessarily automatically mean it is a breach of parc ferme.

      1. If, and only if, the same component is replaced with exact same component.
        If that is the question the second wing is just as illegal.
        You are well aware of that.
        Alternative is it is a setting on the Drs able to open the wing further then allowed to create a higher straight line speed.

  6. I would be surprised if they didn’t give him a penalty, although I’d be surprised if it was anything other than a reprimand and/or fine.

    It may be that no driver has been punished for this before, but to my knowledge none have ever physically touched a component which has later been found to be out of spec before. This is why the rules exist: Max’s actions have cast doubt, however small, on whether the car was actually out of spec before then. I hope that this causes the FIA to enforce these rules more closely, preferably by swiftly ushering everyone away from the cars after the session and not allowing anyone to linger or approach until after scrutineering. IMHO this should apply to the drivers until they’ve been weighed, too.

    1. @drmouse

      The rules state that the car parts must only be changeable with tools, so if Max was able to change the car setup, the car was in violation anyway.

      I understand that the Lewisfans are grasping at straws…

      1. I’m a Lewis fan @aapje and I think Mercedes should probably be punished. The thing is Max should definitely not be touching the cars, do you at least admit that? Is it so hard?
        For what it’s worth I don’t think Max should be punished for it, but he shouldn’t be doing it.

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          13th November 2021, 16:17

          @john-h Pretty much in agreement with you. As a Verstappen (at least in the context of the championship) fan, I feel that Merc should be punished (while a DSQ may be harsh, it’s a technical infringement so there is no other option), and Max either given a fairly hefty fine or a reprimand.

          1. Thanks @randommallard. From what I’ve seen seems like the reasonable outcome of all this, I hope that’s the result but let’s see.

        2. @john-h

          The thing is Max should definitely not be touching the cars, do you at least admit that? Is it so hard?

          I don’t particularly care, just like people in the sport don’t seem to have cared when Vettel did it, Lewis did it (including earlier this year), etc. Basically, only now that it is seen as an opportunity to protect Lewis from a penalty that may have a significant effect on his WDC chances, this became an issue.

          Frankly, the entire psychology of the people who are now suddenly getting upset over it, arguing that SuperMax bent the wing, etc seems to be more up to debate than the kind of demands that you are making, which you could and should have made before, if you actually cared about drivers touching the cars.

          1. Note that this is a rather typical scenario that you also see a lot in political situations, where people suddenly decide that a certain issue is important to their political ends and then become hugely opiniated and certain about that opinion, while previously they didn’t care at all about similar or equal situations that they didn’t see as significant in light of their political goals.

            Typically, the issue then becomes a non-issue again later on, when it no longer has an impact on their political goals.

          2. I’m sorry but this is different, he’s literally touching the piece of the car that is now under investigation @aapje. When exactly has that happened before, when Vettel touched the wing mirror?

            Seriously, I’m being pretty diplomatic in my comments and still this reply from you which is completely baffling to me. Just because it was done before doesn’t make it right, and I’m even saying Max shouldn’t be penalised and still you think I’m making “demands”.

            It’s quite frankly laughable, I give up.

          3. And maybe I did say that Vettel shouldn’t have touched a car back in 2017, I can’t remember. Can you go back and check my comments from 2017 please @aapje.

            Again, I’m not asking for Max to punished for it. Your decisive comments saying people have “political goals” are the problem, not mine. I’m being pretty reasonable about it.

          4. @john-h

            I’m sorry but this is different, he’s literally touching the piece of the car that is now under investigation.

            You are moving the goal posts.

            And maybe I did say that Vettel shouldn’t have touched a car back in 2017, I can’t remember.

            Lewis touched the sticky-uppy bits on his own car after Qualy in Styria, so you don’t have to go that far back.

            Your comments fit my theory that you merely care about this due to the consequences. Rationalizing inconsistent behavior by pointing to differences that shouldn’t matter according to your own arguments is a good example of goal-based reasoning, rather than principle-based reasoning.

      2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        13th November 2021, 16:22

        This is why I think it’s weird for Toto to be arguing that point @aapje , if Max was able to alter the part by hand, then it raises bigger questions about the Merc. What’s to stop any engineer making the same adjustment on the grid? Grasping at straws as you say.

      3. @aapje

        I’m not grasping at anything. However, there is nothing to definitively prove, from the evidence we have been shown, that Max hasn’t learned of a weakness in the design of the Mercedes rear wing, and broken or bent a small part enough to change the gap.

        I don’t actually think he did, but the fact that he was touching a part which was later found to be out of spec does cast doubt on the situation. The stewards, with access to far more information that than we do, can probably discount it, but it does not look good from an outside perspective. It will lead to yet more conspiracy theories, and we have far too many of them in F1 as it is.

        I strongly suspect that Lewis will be disqualified from qualifying and start at the back for the sprint, but I also strongly suspect that Max will get a fine and/or a reprimand to discourage competitors from doing this in future. I think this would be fair, unless Mercedes can show definitively that the wrong was damaged during the session, in which case I believe they would be allowed to fit a new, undamaged wing in replacement (although I’m not certain on this).

        With a bit of luck, it will also cause the FIA to tighten up the post-session procedures for the future, too, and stop this from happening again. That said, this has been a pet peeve of mine for years, so the opinions of others may vary.

        1. @drmouse

          The stewards just decided that Max put no significant force on the wing and didn’t touch the actuators. That’s what I also saw in the video.

          They also admitted that they’ve failed to police it in the past, but that they do consider it a violation and may penalize it more harshly in the future.

          1. @aapje the fine sounds fair to me, and I’m encouraged that they are going to police this more in future.

          2. Sounds like a reasonable outcome to me.

            Let me quote you from above:

            “Basically, only now that it is seen as an opportunity to protect Lewis from a penalty that may have a significant effect on his WDC chances, this became an issue.”

            Maybe, rather it was actually because he touched the part of the car that was under investigation, hence this being raised.

          3. You forgot to mention he got a fine @aapje. Maybe don’t try to take such a false high ground in future, pick on someone that actually is biased towards Hamilton, not me.

          4. @drmouse

            We’ll have to see if they will actually police this more in the future. As I said above, this has all the hallmarks of an issue that people only care about because of the consequences. People are good at deceiving themselves into believing that they actually have principles, when they actually merely care about the consequences. In future situations where those consequences don’t exist, people tend to not act as if they had principles.

          5. @aapje that’s not the case for me. I’ve commented on here more than once that there is far too much opportunity for tampering after a session, even though it would be difficult to do so without getting caught. I’ve specifically talked of the simplicity of putting a weight in a driver’s pocket or similar while they are celebrating with their crew. I dislike the fact that the opportunity is left open, and think that the drivers should be ushered away from the cars immediately to be weighed before having any opportunity for any of them to get near their crew or do anything to any of the cars.

          6. @drmouse

            My previous comment wasn’t directed at you, but at the stewards.


            The fine wasn’t relevant to the point I was making.

          7. @aapje apologies, though I think it’s reasonable to assume a comment which you’ve tagged me in is aimed at me…

          8. @drmouse

            Your comment addressed the policing by the stewards, so I think that it was clear that I was referring to them when I said: “We’ll have to see if they will actually police this more in the future.”

            If I’d been addressing you, I’d have used ‘you.’

  7. I don’t think it is a case of if Max gets a penalty because I really don’t think he will, there is no precedent for it. Rather I think it is Max being so close, possibly touching Lewis’ car, throws out Lewis getting a penalty. Max has really thrown Mercedes a lifeline on what should be a slam dunk penalty.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      13th November 2021, 16:02

      I don’t think you can let Hamilton away with having an illegal car over someone touching it and then let that person off…. You either penalise Hamilton and argue that what Max did had no effect or you say Max essentially broke Hamilton’s car in parc ferme and kick him out of the race. Starting first instead of last affects everyone in the grid – not just Max.

      1. Or you read drmouse post above and see that there are more than the two scenarios you present.

  8. Come on! Lets get Max DSQ-ed for touching the #44 car! Its going to be a great headline!


  9. It seems like the 85 mm test is limited to just 10 N of force because more could force the wing open. It does lend credence to the idea that, as strong as the wing is, it can be moved with the right amount of force in the right direction.

  10. The fia need to actually enforce park ferme rules. Should Max touch another drivers car – no. Have other drivers done it historically with no consequences – yes. Now we are in a situation where the area touched by a driver has a compliance issue and the FIA find themselves painted into a corner by there own historical inactivity on the matter.

  11. Verstappen should definitely not be punished, maybe a reprimand and a don’t do it again talk.
    As for Mercedes, if they’ve failed the test then they’ve failed, but they could argue that the wing was tampered with if it is very very close to passing. As I mention above, it will be down to information that we as keyboard warriors simply don’t have.

    1. You’re one of the most reasonable Ham fans here, @john-h.

      1. Thanks @rodewulf. I’m a Hamilton fan, and sometimes opinions differ, (we can all be a bit biased sometimes, me included) but I’ve been pretty disappointed in some Ham fans lately.

        1. @john-h
          Yeah, I’ve noticed you don’t generally try to put things like if Max can’t do those things that Lewis does sometimes in the raing weekends, despite all evidence on contrary. From my side, one could notice as well that I never stated the opposite. My critical remarks are that Lewis had some unrealised potential this season as a whole, a bigger number of wasted opportunities than those of Max, and the disparity was even bigger about some crucial moments. In front of that, some fans want to pretend this outcome was inevitable due to the car, what is nothing more than a fallacy, just to preserve the rhetoric that he’s in a league above than Max. Well, he could have been at least as good as Max this season, but to deny he wasn’t is like trying to hide the obvious. Anything else, I don’t have that many objections.

  12. Why is it taking so long now. They always seem to either have a knee-jerk reaction or take way too long to decide.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      13th November 2021, 16:19

      @spoutnik Yep this investigation has been going on for more than 18 hours I think now.

      On that note, I seem to remember that after Austria 2019, the stewards spent twice as long deciding whether to give Max a penalty than how long the race actually lasted.

      1. @randommallard Indeed! They have to decide before the sprint race though otherwise it will become even more complicated. Nowadays they seem more hesitant, even opportunistic or cynical at times, and certainly more inconsistent with their decisions than in the Charlie Whiting era.

  13. I’m probably asking a daft question here; But isn’t the issue with Lewis’ rear wing being the size of the slot when DRS is activated? Hence the engine being fired up in order for it to be measured.

    What Max was looking at (the closed flap), is somewhat irrelevant to the legality questions? He’s looking at something that nobody is questioning.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      13th November 2021, 16:40

      @bernasaurus I don’t think the DRS flap needs the engine to be running to open. It’s hydraulic and I assume it must operate based on the electrical power from the car. They are able to open it and close it at it’s normal open-close speed in scrutineering, at which point I assume the engine is off because I wouldn’t want to get that close to the rear end of the car while it’s running.

      I think what Mercedes are arguing is that even though the flap was closed when Max was inspecting it, he could have damaged the DRS actuator arm, which they claim may have led to the wing opening more than it should have.

    2. I’m pretty sure that any connection between the investigations is pure speculation by the internet hive mind right now. fanned by the fact that the stewards are doing both reviews at the same time and taking a long time. But the internet sees everything and supplies it’s own thumbtacks and red yarn.

  14. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    13th November 2021, 16:21

    Considering that the whole thing came about because of a fan-made video, would it have caused so much of an uproar if we were racing to empty grandstands? In that case would it have been a slam dunk penalty for Lewis?

  15. As somewhat of a neutral, I think the issue here isn’t whether max fiddled with the car, it’s the integrity of the process.

    It’s pretty obvious Max didn’t adjust the wing, but the fact he touched it takes away the integrity of the process.

    With integrity gone, can they still give Lewis a penalty?

  16. Has MB actually said anything about verstappen touching the car or is that just the social media fun house mirrors? Don’t see it reported anywhere as news.

  17. Seems just 50k fine for Verstappen, and that would likely be all.

  18. Just a little fine. Lose change.

  19. RandomMallard (@)
    13th November 2021, 16:42

    Verstappen gets a 50,000 euro fine. No news on Lewis yet

  20. Its a fine and that’s fine

  21. As this is a sprint weekend it is allowed for another part to be changed so long as the part being fitted has been used during an earlier practice or race. This I believe is to cover off cars suffering damage during the sprint such that they can still take place in the main event.

    The FIA gave MB permission to change the wing, I believe for a same spec wing, as they have kept the suspect one.

    1. Damn no edit. It should read As this is a sprint weekend it is allowed for a part to be changed…

  22. Poilce: “Max stood over a dead body with bloodied knife in hand repeating, ‘I did it’ over and over again”

    Horner: Well we need to look at the whole picture and get both sides of the story. I’d be surprised if max gets arrested.

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